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18/10/2019 News

Membrane roofing and six other unusual uses for bitumen

Membrane roofing and six other unusual uses for bitumen


Total UK have been providing bitumen solutions in the UK and worldwide for over 40 years, with plenty of this work going into producing hard-wearing and economical road and race surfaces. However, when modified with additives such as polymers, the complexity and behaviour of bitumen can be completely changed, opening the door to a whole host of other uses for this interesting material. In this article we break down some other more some other interesting uses for Bitumen.

Membrane roofing bitumen 

Over the last few years, asphalt roofing has seen a dramatic evolution with innovative, new membrane roofing solutions allowing for faster roofing and the creation of new architectural designs, such as sustainable green roofs.

Used alongside large tanks and buildings, the main role of membrane roofing is to help remove water. This requires an impermeable surface – a task perfectly suited to modified bitumen. These new-generation bituminous membranes, base layers and vapor sheets help drive both time and cost efficiencies whilst retaining high performance levels too, providing sustainability and durability as well as encouraging new architecture.

Clay pigeon bitumen 

Despite the name, clay targets, also known as clay pigeons, are not made from clay, but from a mixture of fine sand and hard bitumen, compressed at a high temperature. Their durable yet brittle composition allows them to withstand high launch and flight speeds, but still break up easily when hit by pellets.

Bitumen for preservation 

Black bitumen paint is regularly used as the main coat of protection on materials including concrete, metal and wood, and it can also be used as a priming coat or sealant on rough, porous or friable surfaces.

Traditionally, hot bitumen was commonly used to seal parquet floors, and is still commonly used with older flooring. This is because when regluing to existing bitumen is required, most glues won't stick to it, necessitating the use of the original bituminous binder.

Carpet tile bitumen 

Traditional carpet tiles are produced by coating carpet tuft with a thick layer of bitumen mixed with filler. In more recent years, the bitumen is modified to enhance the performance of the tile and enable manufacturers to produce tiles at much lower temperatures – this has meant new bitumen carpet tiles are not only durable but can be recycled too.

Bitumen for art 

Yes, you read that right – bitumen isn’t just useful in manufacturing and industry, it has been used in the art world too!

In 1999, artist Tina O’Connell created bitumen-based art in a disused Irish pub. With the ceiling of the bar reinforced, a hole was cut in the floor of the room above, and after removing the windows, a one-tonne bitumen sphere was placed above the hole.

Once in place, the sphere’s two half-tonne casts were removed, letting the bitumen slowly flow its way through the hole, with the gathered audience running a bet on how long the snaking bitumen would take to hit the floor.

Canal preservation bitumen 

Given bitumen’s unique and strong waterproofing attributes, it is often used in hydraulic asphalt canal lining, dam construction and the protection of riverbanks.

Bitumen waterproofing offers many advantages. Easy and relatively inexpensive to use, it is quick-stabilizing, chemically inert and can be easily brushed, sprayed or trowelled onto the area that needs to be protected.

Airfield runway bitumen 

Airfield runways are either built from concrete or asphalt, depending on factors including the volume of air traffic, surface temperature and length of runway. Bitumen can withstand greater temperature and load extremes than concrete and is less expensive to repair, whereas concrete is usually laid in milder climates or on airfields with less traffic, where fewer repairs are required.

Bitumen is used extensively on runways at many civil and military airfields. Asphalt runways bound with bitumen provide a super-smooth, flexible and durable surface that can be maintained during off-peak hours and returned to service quickly.

Bitumen has many more applications than you might think. Learn more about industrial and road bitumen, or speak to Total UK’s team if you have a particular requirement – they will be able to provide you with a tailor-made solution from our extensive product range.